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Plant Mol Biol. 2013 Jul;82(4-5):303-20. doi: 10.1007/s11103-013-0063-y. Epub 2013 Apr 25.

A WRKY gene from Tamarix hispida, ThWRKY4, mediates abiotic stress responses by modulating reactive oxygen species and expression of stress-responsive genes.

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State Key Laboratory of Tree Genetics and Breeding, Northeast Forestry University, Harbin, China.


WRKY transcription factors are involved in various biological processes, such as development, metabolism and responses to stress. However, their exact roles in abiotic stress tolerance are largely unknown. Here, we demonstrated a working model for the function of a WRKY gene (ThWRKY4) from Tamarix hispida in the stress response. ThWRKY4 is highly induced by abscisic acid (ABA), salt and drought in the early period of stress (stress for 3, 6, or 9 h), which can be regulated by ABF (ABRE binding factors) and Dof (DNA binding with one finger), and also can be crossregulated by other WRKYs and autoregulated as well. Overexpression of ThWRKY4 conferred tolerance to salt, oxidative and ABA treatment in transgenic plants. ThWRKY4 can improve the tolerance to salt and ABA treatment by improving activities of superoxide dismutase and peroxidase, decreasing levels of O2 (-) and H2O2, reducing electrolyte leakage, keeping the loss of chlorophyll, and protecting cells from death. Microarray analyses showed that overexpression of ThWRKY4 in Arabidopsis leads to 165 and 100 genes significantly up- and downregulated, respectively. Promoter scanning analysis revealed that ThWRKY4 regulates the gene expression via binding to W-box motifs present in their promoter regions. This study shows that ThWRKY4 functions as a transcription factor to positively modulate abiotic stress tolerances, and is involved in modulating reactive oxygen species.

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